The Man Perm

Rocking the mullet.
Rocking the mullet.

This week over coffee one of my best guy friends reminded me about the time his hairdresser persuaded him to have a man perm (and yes, it was the same hairdresser who cut my hair like Lady Di’s – not). While it’s with enormous regret that I don’t remember him showing up at school on Monday morning with curly hair, it must have been pretty funny. Because even very good-looking people – like him – have a pretty hard time pulling off this particular look. The eighties were cruel, but the worst part must have been the fact that we all believed we’d look better with tight ringlets around our faces.

I'm sure I dated this guy when I was sixteen. He used to borrow my gel.
I’m sure I dated this guy when I was sixteen. He used to borrow my gel.

I even remember the picture I took along with me to the salon of the way I wanted to look. It was a page torn from a glossy magazine, and the girl was extremely beautiful but with huge, pretty dodgy hair. So, take someone who’s not extremely beautiful but does have nice hair, destroy her one redeeming feature, and what do you have? A bad Monday morning in assembly. And again, what hairdressers failed to mention was the fact that the way you looked when you left the salon, all blow-dried and fabulous, was not the way you looked when you emerged from the pool after P.T.

How it looked when you left the salon...
How it looked when you left the salon…
Thinning hair? We have just the solution.
…how it looked when you came out the pool.

But at least I was not alone. I remember a whole bunch of us walking around looking like poodles from hell. I don’t have a single picture of myself permed, and there is probably a reason for that. But I chuckled all day at the image of my friend with his curls. They didn’t last long – he went back to the salon shortly after and had them all hacked off. We girls, on the other hand, had to wait till ours finally ‘relaxed’, a process which could take quite a while. Ayayayayay, the eighties. It’s a miracle we survived.

Really want to run my fingers through this.
Really want to run my fingers through this.
No, Bradley Cooper! Just, NO!
No, Bradley Cooper! Just, no.
Justin Timberlake not bringing sexy back.
Justin Timberlake not bringing sexy back.
Wriong on so many levels.
Wriong on so many levels.
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6 thoughts on “The Man Perm

  1. Susan, totally. Age 15, I arrived home after a hectic perm. Stood in front of the mirror, took in the very old tannie look. Even my short fringe was permed! In a fit of teenage emotion I threw my brush on the floor, bam! That did not help. I was stuck with the perm.

  2. Along with the horror of my first perm (yes there were others) in 1982, was the sudden onset of “puppyfat” … I say no more!

  3. Thanks for the great blogg, Susan. I have spent my entire life fighting the curl. The Cape winters would send me into a downward spin and I learnt to whirl! twirl and beat my hair straight. How I envied the perm – because it meant you could choose NOT to perm it. I am working in (humid)Nigeria for 6 weeks and I left my hair dryer at home in SA. Every morning I wake looking like Marge Simpson. I pull my hair down, pat it, slap ‘product’ on it and put on a brave face. It looks utterly shit. Pubic afro. I am hoping that as it grows, gravity will eventually win…. But it doesn’t look hopeful.

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